5 Vegetarian-friendly snacks to eat in Japan
Though I am not vegetarian, I do enjoy veggie meals now and then to balance out my consumption of animal protein. Since I moved to Japan and got to know the snacks and food at my local supermarket, I saw that many prepped meal boxes contained meat.Though the vegetarian scene isn’t too popular in Japan just yet, you can still find common snacks and food that are vegetarian!
There are some days where I simply don’t crave animal protein or just want a plant-based snack. Get to know these Japanese and vegetarian-friendly foods that you can easily find at a supermarket or conbini.
Inari is a small rice ball that is wrapped in a deep-fried tofu sheet. Soy sauce and sugar make inari a snack to satisfy your sweet and salty cravings. It’s the perfect portion for a light snack and it doesn’t require utensils! There are variations of inari that are made with different vegetables like mushrooms or carrots. This is a great alternative for those that don’t prefer raw fish sushi.
This is an essential side dish in Japanese cuisine. Vegetarians and omnivores alike can enjoy this soybean based soup. The salty and savoury taste of miso comes from the fermented soybeans and various dried seaweed like bonito and wakame. Most miso soup includes tofu, kelp or green onions to taste but you can find regional specialties of this vegetarian-friendly soup throughout Japan.
Miso soup is to be enjoyed in the morning for breakfast, or as a side with lunch or dinner! Some Japanese also drink this as a way to prevent a hangover after a night of drinking or to treat the hangover the morning after the party’s over.
If you look up pungent in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of natto. Natto can be classified as an acquired taste because it’s quite strong in smell and flavor. Don’t let the smell scare you off- natto is simply soybeans that have been fermented until they are soft and sticky. And it has a unique texture where a web-like film covers the soybeans.
It may not for everyone, but it’s a vegetarian option to try if you’re a fan of strong, savory flavors. Natto might sound very unusual to westerners but give this uniquely Japanese snack a shot!
Rice crackers are an old and traditional snack in Japan. You can find them in your common supermarket and sold at a department store as gifts to give. These crackers can be sweet or salty depending on the brand you buy but they’re all delicious. Rice crackers are essentially baked rice flour, salt, sugar, oil and water. Mix it up and go wasabi and chili seasoned crackers for more flavor. This vegetarian snack is popular kiddies, adults and foreigners!
Edamame is quite popular even outside of Japan! Edamame is simply soybeans (yep, more soybeans!) in their pod, just as they are found in nature. They easily cooked in boiling water and salt is added to taste. Once they've cooled down, you just pick them up with your fingers and pop the soybeans into your mouth. This vegetarian snack is easy to cook, tasty and inexpensive- you can't complain!